The sleek dispensaries and tacky bodegas are part of an explosion of unlicensed cannabis shops that have opened in New York over the past year as part of a rush to cash in on the state's legalization of cannabis. Now on the eve of the launch of the state's legal market, the authorities face growing pressure to address the shops, which have created confusion among everyone from tourists to police officers.
The Police Department explained in an email to The New York Times that, in its view, the legalization law does not give officers the authority to make seizures or arrests when they see cannabis displayed or to shut down unlicensed shops. "The law only provides an enforcement mechanism if an actual sale is observed," its public-information office said.
Meanwhile, a survey (results here) conducted by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association found the presence of potentially deadly E. coli, salmonella and pesticides in many products from 20 unlicensed stores that publicly advertise selling marijuana, as Bloomberg reported.